How do you present your research poster effectively when you have a distracted conference visitor in front of you? The freelance science Atlant Bieri communicator gives some great advice on YouTube.
In the video, Atlant presents a checklist which he has developed and uses it in his courses in science communication at the Universität Zürich and ETH Zürich. The central challenge is to not spend more than “60 Sekunden für das Wesentliche”—‘60 seconds for the essential ’.
Hi Atlant! How did you come up with the idea to the checklist and the 60 seconds concept?
Scientists always make the same handful of mistakes when presenting their research. Mostly, they mess up the structure of their presentation and they do some distracting things like playing with a pen while they present. It all would be easily avoidable if you knew what to look out for. So, I tried to fit all of this on a name card sized piece of paper that everybody can put in the wallet and have ready when it is time to talk.
Why 60 seconds? Because this is the average attention span of people who are not necessarily interested in what you have to say. If you cannot thrill your audience within one minute, then you are most unlikely to do so in 20 or 30 minutes. But on the other hand, if you can make a crowd interested in your research within 60 seconds it will also listen to you for longer.
Why should this matter to the young science or tech person?
Let’s face it: after graduation you are most likely to end up in a company or with a government institution where you work in your field of expertise. Well, actually, you only do this 50 percent of your time. The other 50 percent consist of communicating with your surroundings. And it is not only presenting what you do to others. It is also persuading your boss to buy this new fancy soil analysis machine for 500 000 dollars. A well structured, understandable, and short argument will bring you further than any chaotic and nerdy statement.
Those who remain in academia also need to talk and argue: with foundations for money, with the boss about new machines and with the public about whether or not they should worry about climate change, handy rays, pollinator decline, or soil contamination with heavy metals. In short: if you want to have a career you need to talk and you need to present.
Can you give some additional advice to someone who wants to present a project or a subject with clarity and impact?
1st: keep it simple. You cannto put ten ideas into one sentence. Start with a simple fact. Then add another simple fact to it. Then another. Don’t lose your audience. Take them by the hand. Guide them step by step towards the core of what you have to say. If you do that, you can explain anything to anybody.
2nd: Show your audience, why this matters to the world, to my grandmother or to my children. Most stuff is somehow connected with us humans. Find this connection. This is going to be the central theme of your presentation. Then everbody will listen to you.
Read more about Atlant’s activities on his website, www.atlant.ch.
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